Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pontypool (2009)

I debated throwing this one in with my previous entry of quicky reviews but then decided it was so good it deserved its own write up. Pontypool is a little rural town somewhere in Ontario or Ottawa or one of those Canadian provinces I have trouble telling apart. This is a small story, takes place in winter...or maybe it snows in Canada during the summer so let's just say it's an indeterminate season. Anyway, like I said it's a small story, there's some snow, but that doesn't bother our characters because they spend the movie holed up in a little basement radio station out in the middle of nowhere. This could almost be a play. We got few characters, a single set, lots of dialogue, etc.

Basically what the story involves is a man, a dj type man, who is actually a dj and played by Stephen McHattie. I've seen this guy before, I mean he's been around since the 70s apparently but I didn't notice him until he had that little part in Cronenberg's History of Violence. He played the older psychopath who got his face blown off by Viggo Mortensen. Before that point, however, I latched onto this character, couldn't take my eyes off him. He was all magnetic and shit and with the type of voice that could put you to sleep or turn your hair white. What a presence, I thought, this guy's gonna be a star. Well, after that I saw him in the picture called Kaw and, while still good, I didn't quite feel the same about him. Well, watching Pontypool I'm seeing all that promise I noticed in History of Violence finally coming to a head. This is a great performance, probably the best I've seen in a horror picture in a while. What this movie accomplishes is to take that wonderful voice and put it on the radio and take that wonderful, world beaten face, and put it on camera. His voice is almost the star of this thing.

McHattie, like I said, plays a DJ, named Grant Mazzy. He looks a bit like what's-his-name, that Imus guy, and even wears a cowboy hat. He used to be a big time shock jock in the city but was fired for some unknown reason and exiled to small town morning radio show announcing school closings and interviewing local theatre troupes and various other demeaning shit. He still trys to put his own spin on stuff but is mostly kept in check by his brow beating producer (and real life wife, Lisa Houle). Also in the studio is a young engineer, and veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Laurel Ann (Georgina Reilly). On the phone is traffic reporter and "eye in the sky" Ken Loney (Rick Roberts). As the morning progresses, reports trickle in of some kind of "insurgence" of people, surrounding a Doctor's office. Loney witnesses the uprising and reports back, at one point describing an "explosion of people". Then, fearing for his life, he retreats (he reports, remember we get this all via his phone). What's going on in the little town of Pontypool?

The brilliance of the picture, at least for most of its run time, is that we don't know. We know as much as the three characters in that little underground radio station. Is this all just a hoax? Is there some sort of outbreak, a plague, another, god forbid, zombie holocaust? At one point, Mazzy, to his own disgust, interviews a local singing group and one of the young interviewees, a girl, gets stuck on a single word (I forgot to take notes and I can't remember the word, sorry). It's a subtly creepy moment. Mazzy notices, his eyes widen a bit. The singing troupe leaves and the situation continues to decline from there.

The nature of the plague (if that's, in fact, what it is) is revealed in every review I've come across. I'll try to hold back here, not spoil it too much. It involves certain words, words of endearment, militaristic words, words that have so many meanings it's almost as if they have none at all, English words. It's also about a mob of people who have lost the ability to rationalize. What does one thing have to do with the other? There is minimal violence in this picture, one gross out moment. There is also a doctor who sneaks into the station and who, albeit briefly, brings the movie to a halt with his explanations. Is the doctor infected? How does the infection spread? Where did it start? Will the picture even bother giving us answers? Also, why is it that the things we hear about, the simple threat of what's going on outside, that fact that we're not even sure if anything is happening, is far more frightening than the actual happening? Yet, movies today almost always insist on showing the unknown, explicitly, rather than hinting at it.

I guess the lesson I take from all this is to simply think before you speak. Actually, listen to what you're saying. If it makes no sense, it's probably best to leave it unsaid. The characters in this thing find this lesson much easier said than done. Their livelihoods involve the voice for god's sake. I don't know man, I appreciate a film like this. It's got an intriguing premise, some great characters (even if Houle does become a tad bit annoying towards the end), and a solid setting. Where better to set a possible end of the world scenario than in a radio booth? That way we can focus on things like character, tension, and gloom rather than things like quick cuts, cgi effects, and scenes of mass destruction. Those things are good too, but let's change it up every now and then. We'll still have 2012 in the fall or whenever that comes out.

Unfortunately, this one might be hard to find at the moment unless you live in L.A. or New York or feel like ponying up the $6.99 to watch it on demand. Since it's probably as good, or better, than most everything playing in theatres right now I'd argue go for it. It's well directed by Bruce McDonald (The Tracy Fragments and some killer wave movie called Killer Wave). The actors all give good to great performances. The score, well I don't remember the score, so I can assume it was pretty spare which would fit the material if true. The end might be a little too cute, a little "bang us on the head" in its point making but, who knows, maybe that was from the source; a novel called "Ponytpool Changes Everything" by Tony "Don't call me Anthony" Burgess.

Shit man, there's like this new wave of Indy horror coming out now. We've got this, The Burrowers, uh...I hear some people like Splinter, but personally I think they should just rewatch The Thing, um...there's The Midnight Meat Train. This year we also had a competent remake of an almost classic, My Bloody Valentine. Also, an average remake of an overrated classic, Friday the 13th. So, yeah...we're getting some decent original shit mixed in with some ok unoriginal shit. Oh and everyone seemed to enjoy Drag Me to Hell even though it made about 500 bucks at the box office. So, yeah...there's some kind of horror revival going on at the moment. Unfortunately, too many of these pictures are skipping theatres and going straight to Comcast on demand. I'm sure there are other ones I liked. The Signal was ok in parts.

Anyway, Pontypool deserves a spot near the top of that list. It's probably more creepy than scary. The premise is kinda absurd when you stop to think about it, but i didn't so I bought into it. There's only one real gore scene and also no nudity. And, no name actors, although McHattie is clearly a better actor than Lance Henriksen at this point in their respective careers. Is Henriksen still a name outside of genre circles? Wait, was he ever? If nothing else, see this one to discover the point where Stephen McHattie should have shot into the stratosphere of character actors but didn't because no one saw his movie (I forgot he was in Watchmen too, but no one saw that picture either).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Quickie(s) In the Back Room

I've been away for a couple of weeks thanks to my piece of shit computer that I refuse (i.e., can't afford) to replace. I've seen a lot of unmemorable shit , but a few things stuck with me. I don't remember enough to do full scale reviews. If you want a "proper" review check out my just finished People Under the Stairs write up below. I just figured that I watch so much shit I don't write about that this might be a decent way to keep track of it all. Perhaps I'll be able to recommend (or not) some of the shit I've waded through.

Hitch-Hike (1977)
David Hess (The Last House on the Left) rapes and murders his way through some Italian desert standing in for the American south west. Actually, Hess hitches a ride with Italian journalist Franco Nero (Django) and his lovely wife, Corinne Clery (The Story of O). The married couple are not happy, he's a drunk and she's a bit of a cold fish. Into their lives comes Hess fresh off a bank robbery and a double cross. Along the way, they encounter the dumbest cops this side of Roscoe and Enis, Hess's jilted partners in slime, a little rape, a little murder, and some good old fashioned 70s misogyny. Mix all this shit together and it doesn't work, right? Somehow, it does.

House on the Edge of the Park (1980)

Here we have another Italian film where David Hess rapes his way through the run time. Unfortunately, this thing is directed by the guy that brought us Cannibal Holocaust. Fortunately, no animals were massacred during the filming of this picture. Hess and his effeminate buddy crash a party hosted by some spoiled rich kids. This being a Hess picture, things get ugly pretty quickly. It's pretty reprehensible stuff, even for me. Girls get naked, girls get raped. Even the attempt at a moralistic ending is completely offset by the idiotic fact that the terrorized kids had a gun hidden within reach the entire time (Hess only had a knife). I almost turned it off when he started slicing the virgin. Hess, as an actor, had some chops. It's a shame I've only seen him in three pictures and he brutalizes women in all of them.

Circle of Iron (1978)
I hoped to review this as a fitting tribute to David Carradine, but then I watched the thing. Carradine stole Kane from Bruce Lee in life and, in death, he stole old blind man, monkey guy, and Arabian douche bag from him (Lee came up with the story hoping it would make him a star). There's not much to recommend here. Jeff Cooper is the statuesque (like a totem pole) star who loses a martial arts tournament (he won, but cheated) and still decides to take the spoils for himself (a chance to face the three trials and, ultimately, fight Zetan (Christopher Lee wandering on set from a completely different movie - Wicker Man, perhaps). Cooper looking all Beastmasterly is a cocky motherfucker who we wish would suffer greatly. And then die. Along the way, he meets David Carradine who plays a blind flute player (a part he plays very well, i might add) and also David Carradine as a guy in monkey costume. Here's a quick aside: Why cast Roddy McDowall in a picture that features a clan of kung fu fighting monkey men and not have him perform feats of ape-fu? Hell, McDowall was totally wasted as the decidedly human overseer of the tournament. The fights are stagy, unimpressive, and also infrequent. Eli Wallach provides the best moment as a guy whose been sitting in a cauldron of oil in the middle of a desert for nearly a decade dissolving his own junk.

Dead Snow (2009)
Here's a Norwegian Zombie picture that rips off (or is it homages?) things like Evil Dead 2, Shaun of the Dead, The Descent, probably even Severance. Some friends go out to an isolated cabin. The twist is it's a mountain cabin and there's snow every where. Old man comes to warn them off, drinks their booze, etc. Nazi zombies attack. People die horribly while the visual jokes abound. The Zombies were creepy and sorta had personalities. I wanted all the characters to die not because they were vile. Because they were all so god damned uninteresting. The fat guy gets screwed by the hottest chick so I guess there's hope for all you fat guys. Too much time spent coming up with ways to reference other, better, movies. Not enough time spent working out the story or creating characters we could give a shit about. The gore is enough to satisfy those that can get through a movie based on splatter alone. The best compliment I can give it is It's not terrible, just extremely ordinary.

The Story of O (1975)
Because I am one perverted mother fucker.

Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus (2009)
Lorenzo Lamas. Debbie Gibson. Mega Shark. Giant Octopus. This thing should fucking write itself. Actually it did. Unfortunately, it's an Asylum production meaning they wrote, cast, shot, and edited the thing in about a week. The best scene is when the shark leaps out of the water and takes out a commercial airliner as it descends to about 10,000 feet (it's in the trailer). Unfortunately, too many scenes of Debbie Gibson and her lover not doing anything remotely arousing; playing with left over re-agent in vials in a science-y type lab, having post-coital chat in the closet, spouting off about pheremones, etc. Lamas was sorta fun as a racist government official. Watch the trailer, skip the movie.

Eaten Alive (1980)
Holy shit. Italians, if we are to belive their movies, have little use for women (except for sex - consensual or not). In this one, a southern belle searches for her sister who was taken in by a Jim Jones style cult somewhere in New Guinea. New Guinea = Cannibals. Full frontal ungroomed nudity abounds. Also, animal killings (maybe it's stock footage, but still, Come on...). The southern girl enlists the aid of an Indiana Jones type to lead her deep into the jungle. He's a decent enough fellow that thinks nothing of slapping her around when she goes all woman-y on him. Despite the title, there ain't much in the way of being eaten alive until the end. Luckily, Indiana Jones knocks out Marian with a wicked right hook before she can bear witness. I don't know whether to recommend this or attend some meetings.

The People Under the Stairs (1991)

Here we've got one of the few Wes Craven films I can actually enjoy. The first Nightmare on Elm Street is pretty good and then we got The Hills Have Eyes and even parts of Swamp Thing. Last House on the Left, well, I can take it or leave it. Some parts are shocking and some parts are silly and none of those parts really come together in an acceptable way. In the 90s he started changing up things a little with his meta-Freddy picture, New Nightmare and that one that changed the face of horror for the next decade, the one written by the "Dawson's Creek" guy called Vampire in Brooklyn or something. Also, Music of the Heart I heard was pretty damned terrifying from what I heard, so I'll check that one out and let you know. He led off the 90s with a feature that promised to be a movie about people living under some stairs, called The People Under the Stairs, and boy did it deliver on its promise.

I enjoyed this movie even if I'm still not sure if its very good or not. We got two despicable villains in the form of Everett McGill (who was the werewolf turned preacher in Silver Bullet) and Wendy Robie who played June Reed in that one episode of "Baywatch" and was also married to McGill's character in "Twin Peaks". In this movie, they live together as husband and wife, "mommy" and "daddy", and also, we learn later, brother and sister. Their home looks innocent enough from the outside. In reality (movie reality, I mean) it's a heavily fortified fortress, windows locked from the outside, steel doors, unbreakable windows, and a dog named killer or poochy or something that is fed spare parts of the people Daddy kills (McGill, in case you forgot). Oh, and they got some people locked in the basement and under the stairs.

Anyway, this daddy guy is a rich son of a bitch but he's no Daddy Roebuck. I don't remember a scene with Daddy Roebuck slicing up a hanging victim and eating parts of his organs as he works and then feeding what's left to the people living under his stairs, but it's been a long time since I've seen Annie, maybe I was traumatized and blocked it out. Daddy (McGill, not Roebuck) is the richest guy in town, a slum lord who evicts his tenants if they're three days late on rent. Ordinarily, I would think this illegal but it's printed right there on the lease so those families got not excuse. Well, one such family has a mother dying of cancer unless she can get enough money to have the cancer removed. They also got a young son named "fool" (played by Brandon Adams) who is talked into a scheme by his sister's boyfriend (Ving Rhames) that involves breaking into Daddy's house and robbing him of his gold coin collection, the knowledge of which has somehow been making its way around the gossip circuit. Fool teams up with Leroy (Ving) and some "slippery" white guy named Spenser. First they case the house. Then they send Fool to the door posing as a boy scout selling cookies and, when that doesn't work, Spenser poses as the gas man. When he doesn't come out, Fool and Leroy break into the house, there are people under the stairs, a big dog, little girl named Alice, more people under the stairs, mommy and daddy, gimp sighting (which predates Ving Rhame's Pulp Fiction), etc. Maybe I am profiling a character in a movie here but I gotta say I found it unbelievable that Ving's character wasn't packing. Racist.

Strangely enough, this movie doesn't work because of how cartoonish it is but at the same time, the cartoonishness is one of the big reasons I enjoyed it. Daddy is too oafish to be scary. The guy gets hit in the head more times than Yosemite Sam. It's an incredibly enjoyable performance by McGill. He runs around in an all black leather, including mask, S&M suit firing his shotgun into the walls. This house is full of nooks and crannies and secret passageways inside the walls. Fool, after getting locked inside, befriends a young girl named Alice who is supposedly the daughter of mommy and daddy, but if that's the case, the apple fell pretty fucking far from the tree. This is a young girl (played by AJ Langer) who has never even been outside. Mommy and daddy abuse the shit out of her, mostly off camera except the time when mommy dumped her in a bath of scalding water to rid her of sinfulness or some shit like that. Another time, she is hung up by her wrists in the attic, for what was probably days. An embroidered picture hangs in her bedroom with the old saying "A child should never be seen or heard" or something like that which is actually a likely perversion of the original saying. When mommy and daddy learn that fool is running around in the walls all daddy can think is that he's going to "make it" with Alice. Oh, and there's another kid running around in the walls without a tongue (mommy and daddy cut it out) who used to be one of the people under the stairs but is now referred to as "the thing in the walls", called Roach. I guess he's the requisite mutant "we thought was bad that's actually good because even though he shrieks a lot it's only because he can't talk since his tongue was cut out even though when he shows his "tongue" it just looks like they burned it a little or something" with a heart of gold. Also, I'm sorry for calling him a mutant.

This is a pro-child type of picture. I mean, they endure a lot of shit but they're pretty tough and, in the case of Fool, almost too tough. This kid becomes an action hero about halfway through. When he first enters the house, he's terrified of everything. Later, he's dropping bricks on Daddy's head and punching him in the balls. At one point, Daddy sets his killer dog loose in the walls and Fool says "I'm sick of running" and turns around to fight the dog only realizing too late that this is a dog trained to kill and with a taste for human flesh on top of that. They even give him a few one liners to punctuate his acts of heroism but they were so unmemorable that you'll just have to see the picture to learn what they are. So, he wasn't always a believable protagonist. Contrast him with the usually tough Ving Rhames who starts off all bad ass and shit ("what if the President made me Secretary of Pussy?" during a game of "what if?") but, later, is reduced to a cowering shell of his pretend self, even, at one point, forcing Fool to find a new hiding spot, "this one's full."

I guess my thing is I expected this to be more scary than funny, but it's just the opposite and almost not scary at all. The house is a marvelous creation. Even the appliances (stoves, furnaces, etc) lead to hidden passages. The people under those stairs are scarier when they are unseen and, thankfully, for the most part they are. I did like how one was watching a news report of the first Iraq war. I'm sure there's a statement in there somewhere. This movie suffers from a severe case of split personality disorder. On the one hand, we got a kids movie; child protagonist, a girl named Alice, a weird house full of hidden passages, etc, cartoonish violence, over the top villains, a mother that needs money for an operation, children wise beyond their years, etc. On the other hand, we got horrific acts of real violence, gun shot violence, acts of cannibalism, implied incest, child abuse, dog on man violence, man on dog violence, f-bombs, etc.

So, I don't know, I found it consistently entertaining mainly because of how insane it was. Most adults probably won't jive to it and most kids shouldn't be allowed anywhere near it. Obviously, there's a message in here about ghetto life and how slum lords are all just incestuous, S&M loving, cannibalistic mother fuckers. I'm not big on message films but this one is fairly decent, so I guess give it a look.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Technical difficulties....again

I just wanted to let everyone know that I haven't forgotten about my blog. My computer is having some problems, should be back in the next day or two (I hope). I've got plenty to write about. If the problems aren't fixed I'll just start writing from work (during lunch and after hours, of course). Don't give up on me, yet. Thanks.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Seconds (1966)

Suppose you were offered a second chance at life. You find yourself middle aged, depressed, in a loveless marriage, bored, full of regret, etc. Would you take the opportunity to go back and try things differently? That's the opportunity presented to Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph) in John Frankenheimer's Seconds, a work of stunning ingenuity. At times cynical, angry, strange, boring, funny, disturbing, intense, etc. I'm not sure I've really seen anything quite like it...it's like David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Terry Gilliam, and, hell, I'll even throw in Frankenheimer since he directed the little bastard.

Arthur Hamilton lives a drab life. He works, by day, as a bank executive. At night he goes home and doesn't talk to his wife. They sleep in separate beds. Several times, he wakes up to a phone call from his friend Charlie. There's only one problem. The voice on the other end of the phone is certainy not Charlies. Also, Charlie has been dead for a while. Arthur grows increasingly paranoid. The calls make him an emotional wreck. He bottles it up, still won't talk to his wife. Charlie tells him to show up at a location, a meat packing plant. He does. A man at the plant, representing "the company", tells Arthur to get in the back of the truck. They're going to solve his problems, improve his quality of life, etc. Eventually, he finds himself at "the company" headquarters where he is interviewed. Found suitable for their "procedure", Arthur resists. They resort to blackmail. Arthur relents. Taken into surgery, he is transformed into Tony Wilson (Rock Hudson), a "reborn", a "second". A cadaver is procured to use in the faking of Arthur's death (he officially dies in a hotel room fire). Arthur, or Tony, is now an artist (always dreamed of being a painter), given a new home, new friends, new woman. His old life a fading memory. Forgive the cliche, but be careful what you wish for.

Shit man, I'm not really sure where to begin. If you've read the works of Philip Dick you might actually think he was behind this story. Nope, the story is actually based on a novel by David Ely. The score by Jerry Goldsmith is probably up there with his best. It starts in with lots of gothic organs and then mellows out a bit for the middle parts. Frankenheimer is a master craftsmen. I mean, in the 60s alone he directed this, The Birdman of Alcatraz, and The Manchurian Candidate. Amazingly, the guy was still able to crank out something as good as Ronin over 30 years later. Back in the 60s though he was pretty damned angry. There are several disorienting shots throughout the picture. Things become distorted. I was beginning to wonder if I was supposed to start questioning what was real. Nope, turns out it's all real. He does this shot which is almost a cliche today. The shot where a person stands with his/her head either facing to or away from the camera. The person is stationary. Then, a separate shot of the background is projected with the shot of the stationary head in the foreground (two separate shots, merged together). The background moves creating the illusion that the person is moving. Makes them look drunk, crazy, high, all those types of things. Shit, the first time I saw this type of shot was in Scorsese's Mean Streets which came out over half a decade later. The point is this Franenheimer guy uses the camera, almost as another character. Also, not afraid to put a little vaseline on the lens from time to time.

The performances in this thing are all pretty good. I think this is the first time I've seen Rock Hudson in anything and I was fairly impressed. His Tony begins to live the good life, a bohemian lifestyle with his new girlfriend Nora. Eventually, paranoia settles in. The life of Tony is summed up in two party scenes. One where he finally relents and accepts his new lifestyle (by mashing grapes and making wine in the nude with several men and women) and another where the horrific nature of his new life is revealed (not limited to the realization that being a bohemian kinda sucks), if you could even call it a life. These scenes start out well enough, eventually become boring, finally culminating in paranoid delusions that, unfortunately for Tony, aren't really delusions. I was equally impressed with John Randolph as Arthur (before Arthur became Tony) who, when asked what the best thing about his marriage is, simply says 'we get along". Frances Reid is pretty good as his former wife Emily who can only remember "the silences" from their marriage. Will Geer plays an old man, the head of "the company", and is one of those cheerful fellows, sinisterly trustworthy, to describe just one of his contradictions. Another being, if his program is so good why the fuck is he still an old man?

I won't get into the end of this picture. I'll describe it simply as a bit of a mindfuck to use an expression popular with the kids today. Tony is no longer happy as Tony. He wants another chance to begin again. He'd spent his life as Arthur accumulating things, not connecting with people, not being happy. As Tony, he just accumulated different things, while also unhappy (albeit, for different reasons). Ok, I guess I did get into it a little. That's it, I swear.

I don't know about you but I'm going to be seeing more from this Frankenheimer fellow. Reindeer Games sounds interesting. Maybe The French Connection II. I've seen The Prophecy which is one of the better mutant bear pictures out there. I like how his career was sorta unpredictable. I mean, how does one go from The Island of Dr. Moreau remake to Ronin and then to Reindeer Games? And this from a guy that was nearing 70 at the time. He made this picture in the 80s with Roy Scheider called 52 pick up that was pretty good. He also did the picture about the nuclear blimp flying into the super bowl. Amazingly, this guy was never even nominated for an Oscar (really, not even for Manchurian Candidate??). He was nominated for a Razzie though (Dr. Moreau). This movie Seconds deserves more recognition than it gets. It's a product of it's time, sure, but it holds up as a product for all time in my opinion. If nothing else, it may have contributed to Brian Wilson (of the Beach Boys) losing his mind. Story goes, he walked into the theatre late just as a guy from "the company", on screen, was saying "come in Mr. Wilson". If wikipedia is to be believed, that's a true story. The next movie Brian Wilson saw in the theatre was E.T., sixteen years later.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

Since I reviewed that Terminator Salvation movie that nobody seemed to like, I decided to travel back in time and check out T3, one that nobody seemed to like at the time but, now, when compared to the new one it's, apparently, almost as good as Terminator 2 or some shit. Well, as it turns out I didn't need to go back in time to see this, it's on DVD so that will save me the embarrassment of having to walk around downtown Boston 2003 without my clothes on. Phew.

T3 is the movie I guess where the terminator series started heading towards parody. Like skynet it was becoming self-aware. Judgement day for the series was just over the horizon. The only way to salvage things would be to make a deadly-serious movie set in the future, cast Christian Bale, and not allow anyone to smile. Mission accomplished.

Anyway, back to T3. This one is actually better than I gave it credit for in my review of Salvation where I say Salvation is "better" (it is) and that "minus the terrific ending (T3) was pretty bad" (not exactly true). This is an enjoyable action movie with a few intentionally funny moments and several over the top in their cuteness moments. Once again we got a couple of time traveling robots. We got the old fashioned everyman model, the T-101 (Arnold Strong) re-programmed in the future by the resistance and sent back in time to protect John Connor (Nick Stahl) again. And, in this other corner, we got the T-X model (Kristianna Loken) sent back in time by the evil robots to blow shit up pretty good. Actually, her mission is to kill Connor's lieutenants before they can join the resistance in the future, which includes a McDonald's drive-thru employee and a bunch of other helpless kids. And Claire Danes who plays Kate Brewster who would later become Bryce Dallas Howard and finally Kate Connor. The T-X isn't even assigned to kill John Connor this time. Connor's been living "off the grid". Taking odd construction jobs, riding his motorbike real fast, and dropping beer bottles off of bridges. Thankfully, and coincidentally, he swings by Kate's veterinarian clinic to steal some meds just as Kate swings by for a late night appointment, just as the T-X arrives to finish her assignment...and then we also got the T-101 factoring in here somewhere. This is the kind of fate shit this whole series has been about.

Like I mentioned earlier in this review, the whole thing is getting just a little too self aware at this point. A little too jokey I guess. Some of the best scenes in these killer robots from the future movies have always been their arrival scenes. You know, an electro-magnetic ball appears out of nowhere, attracting lightning, causing wind and other weather anomolies. Then a naked Terminator appears with his first order of business being to acquire some sort of clothing or what have you. Well, in this one, The T-X appears in a store front window next to an attractive mannequin. I don't know what the likelihood of this is but I guess I won't really argue. We later learn that the T-X can take the form of whatever she comes into contact with, so I guess that makes a little more sense now. She's just like the T-1000 in that regards. We can only assume, at this point, that the mannequin is probably dead.

The T-101's appearence is even more ridiculous. He stumbles into a bar out in the middle of the desert. I think something else we can infer is that the robots are pretty damned proficient in operating these time traveling machines, always placing their subjects close to their objective. The human operators aren't quite as good. Anyway, the T-101 walks into a bar, on ladies night. His targeting system clicks on and searches for a clothing match. He looks at one overweight scantily clad woman and the words "inappropriate" flash on his screen. Turns out, the only man in the place is the erotic dancer - in full "macho macho man" get-up - who tells Arnold to "talk to the hand" when he asks nicely for his clothes. Arnold does. Maybe this isn't as funny as I think it's supposed to be. I guess the point is that T-101s take everything literally. Sarcasm has no meaning to them. It totally makes sense now and, later, when he tells a store clerk he's robbing to "talk to the hand" I read that as more than just a lame attempt at humor. Shit, I feel better.

This picture is just one damned action scene after another intermingled with scenes or the T-101 explaining some things. After the first encounter with the T-X, the T-101 loads John and Kate into a truck and then begins explaining everything to them. Things like judgement day wasn't stopped (the supposed end result of T2) it was just postponed. His mission is to ensure that they survive it. In the future, John and Kate are married, etc. I don't know, what would I do if a robot from the future shoved me in a truck with Claire Danes and told me she was my future wife? Would I try to force things with her? Would I make awkward attempts at humor like "yeah, well you're not exactly my type either". Ok, what if it wasn't Claire Danes in that truck but, someone like, say, Roseanne Barr? I don't know about you, but this judgement day thing I keep hearing about doesn't sound so bad. Might even try to get a closer view, maybe swing the doors to our fallout shelter open for a moment or two.

We also learned, via John Connor, that his mother, Sarah Connor, died of leukimia a few years earlier. That explains her absence I guess. Apparently, Linda Hamilton was asked to reprise her role but she refused since she was supposed to unceremoniously die about halfway through. So, leukimia seems like a good alternative.

So, yeah, we have a chase movie with the T-X in constant pursuit. It's a superior model to the T-1000. She can do the voices, appear as anyone she touches and shit like that. She can also wire herself into networks, control cop cars, ambulances, even those giant crane trucks. This is like some serious Lawnmower Man or Ghost in the Machine type shit. Her fights with the T-101 sorta give you the feeling that she's just toying with him. She can usually end the fight whenever she wants, and, in fact, she does. This broad can take a urinal upside the fucking head and it barely even phases her.

Thankfully, amidst some of the silliness, there are several standout action scenes. The best one is probably the first one where John and Kate flee from the T-X in a little pickup truck while the T-X controls several cop cars, ambulances, etc and sends them in pursuit. She follows along in the crane truck. The T-101 follows in a motorcycle and eventually latches onto the crane. Several buildings are leveled, innocents are killed, the T-X is made angry, etc. The CGI in the scene isn't too awful.

I don't know, it's better than I remembered it being. Still, the ending is by far the best thing about this picture. Spoilers will commense now. So, that whole judgement day thing? Turns out it couldn't be avoided. The whole point of the second movie was to stop it. Turns out they just postponed it. Something about Kate's father, an air force big wig, being the key. Apologies to Joe Morton is the point of the story I suppose. He died in the last picture but none of that really mattered. Humanity was always fucked regardless. I won't go into too many details since I suppose it's possible you still haven't seen it.

Anyway, 9 out of 10 reviews of Salvation pointed out how retarded it was that the machines didn't just kill Kyle Reese (Connor's father for all you newbies) when they had him. Well, if we learned anything about fate from T3, we learned that it doesn't fucking matter. Also, we're not talking about Back to the Future rules of time travel here. What the fuck did they expect? For Connor to just disappear if they killed Reese? That's ridiculous. No, the only sure way to get rid of Connor is to kill him themselves. So, I hope I've convinced you that the gaping plot hole from Salvation isn't really a plot hole at all.

I enjoyed this one more now than I did the first time. There's still a ridiculously funny scene where the T-101, Kate, and John show up at Sarah Connor's grave and take a bunch of weapons out of her coffin. Then, the T-101 starts blowing away a bunch of cops and shit while holding the coffin on his shoulder (I don't think he actually killed any, killing cops is solely the province of the T-X). One of the cops yells on a blowhorn for Arnold to "put down your gun....and the coffin!" I'm pretty sure that's the first time that line's been said in a motion picture. The ending is perfectly apocalyptic but it doesn't really fit in with the comedy of what we've seen before. Oh well, Jonathan Mostow (the director of this and U-571) did a solid job. The action scenes, for the most part are terrific. Unfortunately, overall, it just seemed like too much of a spoof. It was time for a reboot. McG did his best, but I guess his best wasn't good enough. Should have set his picture in 2030 right before the death of John Connor. Maybe then we'd actually act surprised when Connor survived, had a heart transplant, and still had another 14 fucking years to live. Oh well. T3 is no masterpiece, but it's no piece of shit either.